Gender confirmation hormonal treatment use in young Polish transgender binary and non-binary persons


Aneta Gawlik, Aleksandra Antosz, Krzysztof Kasparek, Zuzanna Nowak, Bartosz Grabski

Introduction: Gender confirmation hormonal treatment (GCHT) is a cornerstone of medical treatments for persistent gender dysphoria, which is expected and required by many transgender binary and non-binary individuals. Many protocols have been published, and the qualification process is guided by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care. The standards and other documents such as the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline provide gender confirmation hormonal care also for minors. However, the issue of starting these treatments in younger populations is still marked by controversy. This preliminary study aimed to inquire into GCHT (medications used, timing of its initiation, its tolerance, and sources of information on the treatment) in a convenience sample of young Polish transgender binary and non-binary persons.

Material and methods: A total of 166 adult transgender participants answered our online questionnaire between November 2020 and December 2021. The population was divided into 2 groups: assigned male at birth (AMB, n = 37) and assigned female at birth (AFB, n = 126). Subsequently, division into binary and non-binary was applied to these groups.

Results: Most patients (91.9% AMB and 92.2% AFB) did not use gender confirmation medical treatments before the age of 18 years. The most common medication used for GCHT before the age of 18 was cyproterone acetate for AMB and testosterone for AFB. When asked about their opinion on the timing (age) of initiating GCHT, 73.1% of the AMB and 59.2% of the AFB participants shared the view that it had been initiated much too late. By far the most common source of information on GCHT and gender confirmation surgery (GCS) was the Internet (92.2%).

Conclusions: These treatments (including pubertal blocking) seem to be rarely commenced in Poland before the age of 18 years. In adults, treatment consists mostly of either testosterone or oestradiol, and cyproterone acetate and, more seldom, spironolactone are used as antiandrogens in persons assigned male at birth. In turn, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists are barely used at all. Specialists need to be more aware that withholding treatment in minors with gender dysphoria is not a health-neutral option. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists should also be more often considered as an alternative to cyproterone acetate in the context of long-term safety.

Keywords: gender dysphoria; transgender persons; sex reassignment procedures

Full publication in Endokrynologia Polska »